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Home Recording Studios: Big or Small, We Love Them All!

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

June 23, 2010

Comments (35)

Karen Commins recording studio

From time to time I am asked to post a question via my Facebook status to gain feedback or advice on behalf of one of my friends.

Today's posting is the fruit of one such effort.

Is there an average size for home recording studios? Find out in today's VOX Daily.

Can Studios Be Too Big or Too Small?

Someone asked me recently if there was an average size for home recording studios and also if studios could be too big or too small.

As my friend Karen Commins reminded me, Teddy Roosevelt once said "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."

These words can be of great comfort to voice actors working from a home recording studio nestled in a bedroom closet, to someone whose spare room is draped with comforters for sound absorption and talent who experience severe noise issues by virtue of living alongside train tracks, on a busy street or within earshot of a fire hall.

Being resourceful means making the most of what you have where you are. In the following section, you're going to hear from professional voice talent about their studios, studio dimensions and also discover that even the most modest of studios can still crank out pristine broadcast-quality audio.

What's Your Studio Like?

"My super glam home studio is a corner of our office. No one can even tell it is a studio. But it provides broadcast quality sound that ends up on voiceovers heard around the world!"

-- Mercedes Rose

"My studio is in a bedroom and is kept to it's 5 foot desk. I live in a log cabin the acoustics are awesome!"

-- Robin Wolf

"The Hole' is more akin to a large closet, but effective nonetheless."

-- Herb Merriweather

"'Large' closet would be a misnomer. A closet, indeed... but I recorded a Voices.com job in it today!"

-- George Washington III

"168 Sq Ft. It was formerly a game room."

-- Diane Merritt

"WhisperRoom with dimensions of a traditional British phone booth. Hardly any room for words and sauna during our hot 'n humid Florida summers but great 'closeness' sound (not to be confused with claustrophobic)."

-- Hans Van Den Nieuwendijk

"I don't know that there is an 'average,' but if I had to guess, most would be about the size of a moderate walk in closet. My studio is 10' x 12' and includes my office furniture. My recording space within the studio is 5'x4' I hope this helps!"

-- Chuck Burke

"I have about 1200 square feet including two dedicated control rooms. But I'm a bit over the top."

-- Steve M. Savanyu

"I converted a small half/bath to a studio. The commode and sink were removed leaving ample space for a desk and recording space."

-- Connie Mustang

"My home studio space is 10 feet long, 8 feet wide and just under 8 feet tall."

-- Bob Souer

"Mine is about the same size as yours, Bob."

-- Debbe Hirata

"My stunning studio is a custom-built addition to my house that employed soundproof construction techniques. I looked back at the construction specs. The room is 16'x19', with an approximate interior space of 14.5'x18', or about 260 square feet. I record in a 6'x8' WhisperRoom, and I have a computer desk and love seat outside the WhisperRoom."

-- Karen Commins

"3 sq ft, a computer desk with a mic on top of it. That's how I roll. I win!"

-- Seth Aberbach

"Super compact with a Harlan Hogan portabooth, a desk, a stand and a stool. I rent an apartment that I never expected to stay in long, so hence I haven't built anything permanent."

-- Laura Wiese

"So, I had a nice set up in a walk in closet with beautiful fabric covered sound proofing stuff and red painted desk and chair... with Christmas lights. Then, my husband decided he wanted the storage space back and shoved a bunch of boxes in there. Moved me to another room, leaned a couple mattresses against the sides of a book shelf and that is my current studio! Actually, it is much quieter but I am having a static problem."

-- Therisa Bennett

"I converted the second story loft of my condo to make my home studio. Total room size is about 15' X 15'. I have a great view of trees and sky outside my window. I have a couch for resting and a beautiful desk with a leather desk chair. Acoustic foam "room divider" makes for excellent recordings. Since I spend about 8-9 hours a day in here, it has to be comfy and functional at the same time. I'm always looking around to see better ways to configure my equipment and furniture."

-- Peggy Tisone

"My studio consists of an upstairs bedroom with an attached walk-in closet. I utilize the bedroom as my office and editing suite, and I Aurelex'd the closet area and built it into my booth. I use one of those computer monitor page clips as my copy stand so I can keep my head up in a good position. Plenty of room to animate, and the closet is ventilated for comfort. I use one of the existing shelves for my tea cup, bowl of apples, lozenges, etc. Outside in the office area, I have a studio desk with my computers, and my filing cabinet. I run Pro Tools on Mac and Adobe Audition on a PC. Also, I keep all of my guitars and amplifiers (my hobby) in the room as well. That way if I get the urge to record, I can."

-- John McLain

"My studio is the workbench in my basement. I use Auralex as sound proofing that works well. However, when the boiler kicks in I have to start over. I use one of those 'draftsman' chairs (because the keyboard surface is high). I hope to, one day, convert my smallest bedroom into a proper studio.... where the boiler can run... anytime it wants... without disruption. lol"

-- Rich Brennan

"It's the extra bedroom with a treated walk-in closet for the mic, which is on an overhead studio boom. The copy is placed on a collapsible music/copy stand that is treated to reduce reflections. There is a bar stool inside if needed for long-form or audiobooks. Might I say that there is no better way to treat your closet booth than with studio foam *and* hanging clothes? :) Out in the bedroom, my Studio RTA desk has all of my gear set up on it, from the PC, to the rack gear, to the monitors and office supplies."

-- Brad Venable

What's Your Recording Environment Like?

Leave a comment!

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Stephanie

Photo courtesy Karen Commins

Related Topics: Apple, booth, Christmas, dimensions, equipment, home recording studios, recording studios, size, soundproof, space, voice overs


Comments


    My family used to call the room my studio is in the "basketball court." I've taken 100 feet of court and moved in a desk, printer bookshelf and setup a homemade isolation booth. I like it!

    Posted by:

      My setup is very similar to John McLain's. A desk in our bedroom is my workspace, with the mic cable running into a nearby 6x7-ish walk-in closet. Due to budget constraints, the padding in my walk-in is provided by the clothing hanging on three sides (lots of long items on my wife's side). Reflected sound is further reduced with the help of various odds and ends that are either on the floor or tossed up on a shelf that sits just above the clothes. Once inside with the door closed to record, I hang a thick bathrobe in front of the door to reduce reflections a notch more. Even though the floor is laminate, I'm *very* happy with how it sounds. I sit on a fold-out stool while reading (staying low keeps me more in the middle of all the clothes to minimize bounce), and the stool and mic stand tuck behind the clothes when I'm not recording.

      Posted by:
      • Justin Barrett
      • June 23, 2010 6:27 PM

        Well, I call mine the voice box for starters because it's not much bigger than a box. It's a small extra bedroom covered in lovely yellow sound foam with an eclectic decor ranging from the musical, to props, to superheros. I call it fun, my wife calls it something else. It's not pretty, but it is effective.

        Posted by:
        • Paul Hernandez
        • June 23, 2010 6:28 PM

          Mine is one half of my walk-in closet. I have my laptop on a folding table with the microphone and guard on a microphone stand next to it, and eggshell mattress toppers nailed into the surrounding walls to help eliminate any unwanted noise.

          Posted by:
          • Michael Gregorash
          • June 23, 2010 6:28 PM

            I have an office downstairs that is roughly...uh... getting a tape measure out...10 x 17 in side I have a small 3x3 sound proofed recording area. Reading what everyone else has I think I want to increase the size of the recording area. Thanks Stephanie for posting this question.

            Posted by:
            • Bill Albrecht
            • June 23, 2010 6:29 PM

              My studio is what was half of my garage. Closed it in and air conditioned it... no "booth" as such, just one big room with a great sound.

              Posted by:
              • Kevin Charles Minatrea
              • June 23, 2010 6:29 PM

                4'X6' Booth

                Posted by:
                • Tim Branson
                • June 23, 2010 6:31 PM

                  My studio is your average walk-in closet with carpeted walls. It was cheap and effective! I like a little room to navigate with my rolling chair, so it's pretty decent in size. I hope to have a video created sometime in the future. For now, I like it to be a, "secret." That's the whole fun of it! WONDERING, what each others studio's look like! :)

                  Posted by:

                    I use a spare bedroom in the house as the office/studio. The room is about 12'x14'. Any equipment that makes noise is routed to the sound proof closet. Then I've got sound blankets on hooks in 5' x 5' area around my mic and screens. I can read the copy directly from the screen and save paper.

                    Posted by:

                      Started with the modified bedroom approach... using stand-alone bi-fold doors with auralex tacked on... bath towels hung on cabinet doors... foam mattress pads...etc, etc. Not only was "the look" hilarious... I always had a battle with computer fan noise.

                      So I built a 4 by 4 booth and my studio is now down in our finished basement and although it's a work in progress I must say it looks much more professional. In addition to improving my mood... I can bring in clients without being embarrassed about the blue and white striped beach towels!!

                      I had to install bass traps in the booth to stop it from sounding "boxy" so it's a tad snug... fortunately I'm not the least bit claustrophobic..

                      Interesting to read that so many people get good sound and gigs without having to have a 50 thousand dollar studio and all Neumann mics.!!!

                      Regards

                      Posted by:

                        My home studio is a 10 x 11 bedroom with aurolex on all walls. I also had an insert made for the window...custom made from 2 pieces of plywood, about 2" between, sheet block insert, carpet on outside (more for asthetics) and two handles on it so it can be removed. It has dramatically decreased noise, and the temp of the west-facing window that used to roast us in afternoons!
                        We also put a double door to the hallway, minimizing the sound of parrot chatter.
                        In it I record into a macbook, (attached to a large monitor) protools, and a TLM 103.
                        Doesn't take much to equip a studio!

                        Posted by:

                          I started with a thick comforter over my head. Now I have progressed to a portabooth for my microphone that sits in a book shelf. The shelf is surrounded by moving blankets hanging from some c stands and a thick rug on the floor. Computer is on a table outside me where I can monitor levels. It is still primitive but it works. Thanks Stephanie!

                          Posted by:
                          • Laura Bednarski
                          • June 24, 2010 9:59 AM

                            A 7x7ft converted box bedroom - now a pit of creative, bohemian disorder, that somehow seems to work for me. The piles of random junk make for excellent sound-proofing, though I'm not entirely sure it's a blueprint I'd recommend;-).

                            Posted by:
                            • Rajiv Hasan
                            • June 24, 2010 10:01 AM

                              Audio technica microphone, in my closet where the clothes act as an echo suppressor and noise remover. It gets rid of the white noise too, so the sound comes out nice and smooth.

                              Posted by:
                              • Robert Gillim
                              • June 24, 2010 10:01 AM

                                A very small closet (4 x 4) with an end table for the computer, mic on a stand and several different kinds of blankets and quilts covering the shelves and door. Barely room for me once the door is pulled almost shut.

                                Posted by:
                                • Joyce Davis
                                • June 24, 2010 10:02 AM

                                  Hi, Stephanie!! You're gonna LOVE THIS>>>we just made a homemade pop-screen filter, and it only cost $1.29!! Saved thirty bucks... and I'm just getting started, so saving every penny counts. Can't wait till my mic gets here from Amazon!! Will post how we made the backscreen, soon... saving ANOTHER 200 clams!! ;)>> ~ Haha, pardon the pun. ~

                                  Posted by:
                                  • Lora Jones
                                  • June 24, 2010 10:03 AM

                                    Well...I have to laugh. I think I might win for smallest, most unassuming studio and although I can admit to a little studio envy, I am not ashamed of the product and service that my clients receive as it certainly holds up!Q

                                    I have the quintessential, "do what you can, with what you have, where you are":

                                    A wall length closet with mirror sliding doors, my husband and I both store our clothes, our shoes, laundry, and other assundry items in my "studio". My computer and microphone sit atop a cooler and two full rubbermaid bins; my M-Audio USB box sits on the wire shelf above my head. A have enough room to stand and read my scripts (in the dark) from my computer into my RE-20. And except for the occasional clinking of hangars as I brush up against my clothes, the sound is good.

                                    The clincher is, I need to juggle with the air conditioning as my unassuming studio is on a small island in the hot, hot, hot Caribbean! Poor me. ;)

                                    Posted by:

                                      My partner in all things Paul Clark and I share a dedicated 734 sq. ft. space that houses our offices on one side, and the control and recording area on the other. After doing a 10' x 11' back bedroom for many years, the expansion was a blessing! We built our booth ourselves, which is mobile, so we can break it down or readjust it for drum recording or anything else we choose, too (he's going to be offering up an e-book on this soon!). It's equal parts homey and practical for what we do, and lots of Auralex and big rugs (not to mention the cat hair) keep the noise to a minimum!

                                      Posted by:

                                        Chiming in from the West Coast: About 4 years ago my husband and I built a 4'x4'x7' portable isolation booth from "Dawbox" plans we found on the web. The most expensive component was the Auralex foam. It has forever, positively changed the audio quality coming from this studio. Even though it's not really "portable" my booth has served me well.
                                        All The Best,
                                        Bobbin Beam

                                        Posted by:

                                          I love my little studio. I built a sound chamber that fits over my 5 feet by 2 feet stand up work bench that I purchased from the Sears tool department. My computer screen, keyboard, Neumann TLM103 and copy stand with light all fight nicely within the chamber. The whole system, Mackie board, Avalon 737sp processor, M-Audio Fast Track Pro, Furman PL-Plus, Bose speakers, custom built computer and Denon receiver all fit nicely in the corner of our upstairs bedroom. Yep I even have HD TV and a double bed for mediating during breaks from VO work. We live in the hills in Marin County so it's pretty quiet and when I feel too much pressure I look out the window and watch the deer graze on the dry grass. After 28 years in the hectic world of L.A. radio, acting and VO, this is really paradise! Thank you for asking and I love voices, you keep me humming all day!

                                          Jay Coffey

                                          Posted by:
                                          • Jay Coffey
                                          • June 24, 2010 1:13 PM

                                            Hi Stephanie ~ My home studio is a converted bedroom closet. I stapled up egg crate bed topper I got at Wal-Mart. I’ve covered every square inch ceiling, walls, door, and the floor is carpeted. The PC I use to run the software was too noisy in the room, so I put it on the other side of the wall and ran the cords through the wall. I use cordless mouse and keyboard which works great. I have a few challenges like learning how to use ProTools effectively, but somehow I get it done.

                                            Thomas Dunn
                                            Austin, Texas

                                            Posted by:

                                              My studio is very small. I am just starting out, live in a rented apartment and am on a pension so, I couldn't go big. I have a pc with appropriate software, a condensor mic, a MicPro Port attachment for the mic, and a Porta-Booth. This little set up seems to work okay for me.

                                              Posted by:
                                              • Darla Middlebrook
                                              • June 24, 2010 3:35 PM

                                                My studio is a converted 10'x11' bedroom that faces a fairly busy residential street. There's a large 5'x7' window on the wall that faces the street, and I used to have to stop recording any time a car drove by...which drove *me* nuts. So I recently installed a "soundproof" window and added two layers of drywall. It's much quieter now, and I only have to stop recording when big trucks rumble by.

                                                My hardware: Heil PR-40 and MXL Mogami V69 mics, Symetrix 528E Voice Processor, DigiDesign (Avid) MBox 2, iMac 24" (os x 10.6.2), Mackie MR5 studio monitors and Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro cans.

                                                Software: Pro Tools 8 LE version 8.0.3cs2

                                                Posted by:

                                                  Hi Steph:

                                                  My studio is a 10' x 8' space with desk, computer, the whole works. Soundproofing achieved by installing carpet padding on walls & ceiling covered with light weight beige blankets (the padding is that hideous pink/blue/green etc mish mash of colors; had to cover it with SOMETHING! It will never be the subject of a photo spread in "Better Homes and Studios", but, it works!

                                                  Bill Nevitt

                                                  Posted by:
                                                  • Bill Nevitt
                                                  • June 24, 2010 10:26 PM

                                                    I'm currently in a spare bedroom about 8x12. The tower is in the closet thus reducing the fan noise. The walls have egg crate foam that I got from the hospital, (They have to throw it away after someone uses it...I used to just go and pick it up, Way cheaper than Auralex) I use a double pop filter as close as I can get to the Audio Technica 4033 that I've had for 15 years. I run the mic through a Focusrite pre, into a Digital board. I compress twice on the way in and record flat all the way through. I am heavily gated to further reduce ambient noise. I record hot and monitor through Truth Monitors or AKG cans. The floor is carpeted, the speakers are damped and resting on homemade speaker stands that I made for about 10 bucks and even today are some of the best anchors I have ever used. (Email me I'll tell you how to make 'em, you can get everything at Home Depot) I'm running dual monitors. Oh and one more thing, EVERYTHING that uses a cord is QUANTUM Cabling. Quiet as a church mouse. Good cabling is paramount.

                                                    Posted by:
                                                    • John McCann
                                                    • June 24, 2010 10:45 PM

                                                      I would say that the size is not as important as the shape, and what's going on inside. Ideally you'd have dimensions what weren't multiples of each other, non-parallel walls, and broad-band absorption rather than just carpet or foam. As the room gets smaller, those criteria get more difficult to meet.

                                                      Posted by:
                                                      • Dan Popp
                                                      • June 25, 2010 4:57 PM

                                                        I was feeling a little embarrassed about my meager setup. It's in a walk in closet with a laptop, mic and five foot stand. But after only a few weeks I just sold my first job and they were happy. Looks like a lot of folks are doing the same. Hopefully someday I can upgrade to something better. But in the meantime I'll just as they say do the very best I can with what I have.

                                                        Posted by:
                                                        • Brian Allen
                                                        • June 28, 2010 10:12 AM

                                                          My sound room is a 4x8 walk in closet with Audimute soundproofing sheets (wall to wall,,,,kinda resembles a padded room LOL!!)with my nice preamp and monitors in my closet ;I keep my computer in the next room to avoid fan noise,it seems to work so far.

                                                          Posted by:

                                                            I started a few years back when I purchased a used Allen Heath recording mixer and converted 150 square feet of my garage. After expanding into the living room, dining room and bedroom I am now building a recording studio in our backyard 20' x 32' that will have a dedicated sound room, drum room, control room with office and Iso Booth. The sound room will cater to the bands: at 300 square feet it will record 7 musician's plus guests under the ten foot ceilings. It will house mic stands, music stands, keyboard, 3 electric guitars with cabs, 2 bass guitars with cabs, Hammond with Leslie, mic cart, monitor station with six headphones and a cd player.
                                                            The control room will be 200 square feet. This space will be shared by a dedicated midi synth with computer, a ProTools 7.4 station with dedicated computer, an Iso booth with 3 dedicated mics and headphones, the Allen Heath CMC 32 mixer, a mic preamp rack, an effects return rack, a fully integrated monitor/ talk system and a full patchbay. All of this will be driven into an Alesis HD24 track recorder for mixing and remixing either with new tracks, edited tracks or tracks sent to the syth or ProTools view local ethernet. Then the final mix will go to the master recorder rack for the Red Burn.
                                                            The drum room will be a triangle shaped room off of the sound room and includes 2 drum sets, extra hi-hats (13,14,15) , extra snare drums (brass, steel, wood, piccollo), dedicated monitor system, xylopohone, congas, percussion tree, dedicated mics and stands.
                                                            There will be a bathroom in the back with a countertop for a microwave and a studio refrigerater below.

                                                            Posted by:
                                                            • Stirling
                                                            • October 21, 2010 3:29 PM

                                                              Very small closet...and, as you yet, still waiting for that first paying job!

                                                              Posted by:
                                                              • Joe Federico
                                                              • June 3, 2011 9:55 AM

                                                                A walk-in closet. Approx. 6 x 7. Set up my laptop, mic and scripts on an old (and no longer used) change table. Thick comforter hangs over the door and with the clothes, it blocks out all sound from outside and makes it nearly impossible to hear me unless I'm recording at a very loud level.
                                                                I actually like it quite a bit. Once we get settled back into a house from this condo though, I'll be building a booth from scratch. I can't wait!

                                                                Posted by:
                                                                • Tony
                                                                • June 3, 2011 10:18 AM

                                                                  I gutted out an old closet. It's 6ft tall, about 4X5. I lined it with foam roll, and 1' wedge foam squares. I lined the door with a sound blanket, and more foam squares. I also have another sound blanket over the top that comes about haflway down over the doors, as I need to keep them ajar to work. I have an MXLV87 Mic with a Mic Mate Pro. I live in an aparment, so I wanted something I could move when I needed to. It's cozy, and works well.

                                                                  Posted by:
                                                                  • Deborah
                                                                  • June 3, 2011 10:22 AM

                                                                    When we built our new home last year we built an 11x11 office with a 4x4 booth inside in the basement under the quietest corner of the house. Both rooms insulated with sound proofing insulation. Then I added 3 inch acoustic foam to all walls and ceiling of the booth which brings the size down a bit. I do have to leave the booth every once in awhile to breath as its also airtight LOL (aside from one small hole for wires).

                                                                    Posted by:

                                                                      It doesn't take much to make your business work. I tweaked out a 12x12 space using recycled denim insulation, covering it with some blue cotton fabric, cork on the walls and throw pillows from my trip to Turkey, to create a 0 reflection space. I laid a small hardwood section if I need to mic an acoustic guitar or such, and use my dry erase board to move around for other surface reflection, if desired. I can raise or lower the window coverings on each side to my liking. My keyboards are stacked in a corner and there is still room enough for an electric guitar, elec bass and a percussion, at once if necessary. I can always run a mic cable down the stairs to the master bath to place a bass cabinet for a bit of an old "wall of sound" feel, too. It is what you make it.

                                                                      I do VO for much corporate work, audio books, documentaries. I also compose for documentaries, TV/Film, and corporate. As a singer/songwriter it's all I need and am able to FTP tracks to other musicians and producers I work with throughout the world. When I need to take a break, its a 10 second walk out to the garden to pick a strawberry and sit in the sun for a few mintues.

                                                                      The Beatles only had 4 tracks to make Sgt. Pepper. They had to do pre-production and learn how they would bounce those tracks back and forth to create the stacked produced product. By the end, they had to add a hand beating a pillow overdub track to assist the kick drum...nothing is what it seems...

                                                                      The basis is, you use what you can, learn how to make the best out of it and GO! There are no rules!

                                                                      Posted by:
                                                                      • Doug
                                                                      • June 3, 2011 10:50 AM

                                                                        This conversation saddens me. Not because of anyone else's comments, but because my wife and I recently moved to Vancouver to live in a 964sf apartment. I had just built (Dec2010) a wonderful studio in the basement of our house. 10x10, double-walled, double-windowed, well-insulated and fantastically treated room. All the space I could want. I painted it a beautiful warm green and trimmed it with cedar. TRULY west coast.

                                                                        3 months later, we decided to move. We left Vancouver Island for the big city. Still I'm quite thankful we found a condo with what they call a "Flex Room". Really it's a 5x5 pantry/storage closet, but it fits me and my gear and it was easy to treat. We also have a main office with a lovely view, where I do my editing.

                                                                        Plus I'm 10 minutes walking distance from some of the busiest studios in Canada. I guess it's a good trade off. But I still miss my beautiful room.

                                                                        Posted by:

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